Yesterday my beloved sister Julie tragically passed away. I am at a complete loss on what to say.
I have cried enough to last an entire lifetime over the last 3 years
I don't know if or when I will be able to write anything of substance... but here is a email that was sent that gives a sense of what is currently happening.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Everett,
This is Sarah Ellen Mamlin, wife of Joe Mamlin, the physician to whom you talked last night. First, let me tell you how very, very sorry we are. I want to assure you that everything possible that could be done for Julie was done. Being in South Bend, Indianapolis, or New York would not have made any difference. Still, your loss is profound and great. We feel some of that loss ourselves.
Patrick has been a strong, loving husband. He has grieved deeply as only the Luhya know how, but at the same time he has been a stalwart of strength. I can only say how tall he has grown in my estimation as he has loved Julie through her last moments and received her love.
Serena has been exactly like her name ~ and island of PEACE. . . She has not complained at all. She's cooed in conversation and has not cried anything but a small cry to notify us of the need for food or a diaper change. Last night she was handed from hand to hand and intuitively knew that something was different - so settling down was difficult. About 11 PM I took her to my room and put her in her bed, but, like previous attempts to lay her sleeping body down, that was not suitable so I put her in bed with me under the covers. Her whole body relaxed ~ and she slept from 11 PM to 7:30 AM with only
couple of eyes-closed moments of agitation that a pacifier calmed. . . Friends and relatives have been streaming into our house all evening and morning. Many have held her. She has been a marvelous "hostess." How proud you will be of her!!
We are arranging things with the U.S. Embassy and a funeral home in Nairobi which will make arrangements to send her back to South Bend, we hope. Of course, there are Kenyan regulations as well. We will try our best to get everything done as quickly as possible. Patrick has asked that Julie be taken to his village so his family can mourn her properly in the Luhya way. They will have a feast and slaughter one of Patrick's cows. If I understood Patrick correctly ~ which I might not ~ burying the cow can substitute for burying Julie ~ since in their tradition the wife "belongs" to the husband's family. Patrick, however, chooses to honor your desire to bury Julie.
It is my understanding that embalming will take about 24 hours. We "plan" to get Julie to Nairobi and the funeral home the U.S. Embassy uses as soon as after we get Julie back from the village. We will gather the IU/Purdue community and any of the AMPATH community who choose to come about 3:30 PM tomorrow for a brief memorial service here. Then she will be flown in a charter plane to Nairobi. But also as is the Kenya way ~ schedules are not always followed. We will keep you informed as things occur.
Another issue to be decided is WHEN flights can be arranged. This is the high season. Flights are difficult to come by so we will not know when Patrick and Serena ~ and I, as her caretaker, can accompany Julie until the Embassy makes the arrangements. We trust it will not be long.
The necessary documents are being gathered in Eldoret. Just as in States, there are specific ones that must be signed by the proper officials before we can ask the plane to come for Julie.
We find that Julie and Serena had already purchased tickets to return to you at Christmas. In our conversations with the Embassy, it sounds as if the purchase of seats and space for Julie cannot use that purchase. They request for a refund will have to be done later.
We have gathered all Serena's things. We have all passports and U.S. documents we think will be needed and Julie's address book and wedding album. We just want to know if you know of anything else at all which we might overlook that you particularly want us to find and return with Julie.
Again, accept our condolences and the dozens of people who have come through this house. You would truly be warmed and moved by the outpouring of love and sympathy from the Kenyan and American community here. Julie's legacy will live on here. You can be proud of what she accomplished ~ and of her wonderful little family!
I am so sorry I could not just talk to you. Patrick brought me the phone, but I only heard "Can you hear me?" alone.
With tears and joyful memories,
Sarah Ellen Mamlin